My Favorite Things - Slow Cookers

We are coming into Fall.  And with that brings cooler temperatures, holidays, and visitors. So what is an easy way to make larger meals for visitors, or a meal that can be prepared in the morning and stay warm all day?  I introduce the Slow Cooker.  Or Crock Pot.  Same thing.  It cooks food at a low, steady temperature over a long period of time (usually 6-8 hours).

I have owned a couple of slow cookers over the year.  They've increased in size simply because my family has increased in size - from 3 quart, to 4.5 quart, to 7 quart.  I LOVE my current slow cooker - this Stainless Steel 7 Quart Crock Pot.  I have a thing for manual appliances as well - too many times have I owned a digital appliance and had it fail on me.  Maybe one day I'll have the guts to try one.  But not today.  For now, I love the manual operated ones.  This particular one has a Low, High, and a Warm setting, which is basically all you need.  I love being able to cook the food for 8 hours, and then keep the food on Warm while serving.

Here are a few of my Slow Cooker recipes:

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Slow Cooker Tacos Carnitas

Slow Cooker Tips:

1. Never, EVER, fill your slow cooker where the food will be touching the lid.  Ever.  If that happens, you need a larger slow cooker.  Your slow cooker should actually never be more than 3/4 full in order to cook properly.  AND, it should never be less than 1/2 full - your food will cook too fast.

2. Meat requires 8 hours of cooking on low.  This makes cooking cheaper cuts of meat perfect in the slow cooker - it will results in a tender meat in the end because of the longer cooking time.

3. DO NOT lift the lid during cooking.  It's like opening the oven door when baking - heat will escape, altering the temperature inside the slow cooker and extending the cooking time.

4. Add strong spices during the last hour of cooking.  Spices like Cayenne Pepper and Tabasco Sauce will lose their punch and turn bitter if added at the beginning of cooking.